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Great Expectations – 53

Breastfeeding Benefts

As newparents, it is your responsibility to make sure your baby establishes a good nutritional start. If you choose to breastfeed, you have joined the majority of women who feel this is the best and most ideal way of feeding their baby. Almost as important as a good nutritional start, breastfeeding contributes to the infant’s emotional development. Breastfeeding will also promote wellness in your infant due to the presence of antibodies in breastmilk. There is no doubt that breastmilk contains all the nutrients required and is perfectly matched for your baby’s needs for proper growth and development. Studies prove that breastmilk provides optimal health and benefts the newborn for as long as you choose to breastfeed.

If you decide to breastfeed, here are a few things you should do:

• Talk to your lactation consultant or healthcare provider about your decision to breastfeed.

• Become well-informed about breastfeeding through information you can obtain from your lactation consultant or healthcare provider or take classes on breastfeeding from your healthcare provider’s offce or hospital.

• Attend a breastfeeding support group meeting.

Anatomy of the Breast

The breasts are delicate organs made of glandular, connective and fatty tissue. The nipple contains tiny openings through which the milk can fow. These tiny openings are surrounded by muscular tissue that cause the nipple to stand erect when stimulated. Surrounding the nipple is an area of darker skin called the

areola . This area will become darker and larger in size during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. The areola contains pimple-like structures near its border that are called Montgomery Glands . These glands secrete a substance that helps to lubricate and cleanse the area.

Physiology of the Breast

Stimulation of the nipple by the baby’s sucking sends messages to the tiny pituitary gland in the brain. It in turn secretes a hormone called

prolactin . Prolactin stimulates the milk gland cells within the breast to begin producing milk. Another hormone that is released is known as oxytocin .


Your Newborn

Both popular and medical opinions agree that there are many benefts to breastfeeding for both mother and baby.

For Baby:

• Easily digested

• Perfectly matched nutrition • Filled with antibodies that protect against infection

For Mother:

• Convenient • Economical • Exclusivity

• Helps the uterus return to its normal size faster

For Both Baby and Mother:

• A beautiful and intimate way a mother can bond with baby • Contributes to a very special and loving relationship

Milk Producing Cells



According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Statement on Breastfeeding, women who do not have health problems should exclusively breastfeed their infants for at least the frst 6 months of life. The AAP suggests that women try to breastfeed for the frst 12 months of life because of the benefts to both the mother and baby.

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